The big Apple buzz right now is how Apple has busted the company Molinker for having fraudulent reviews of its 1000+ applications in the App Store. This scam was initially posted on iPhoneography. The Molinker developer had many applications in the photography section of the App Store, which is why iPhoneography, a photography and videography blog uncovered this. Basically the developer was giving out free applications to get 5 star reviews. This wasn’t a small event though, they ended up giving out hundreds of free promo codes to the same people to post false reviews of all their applications.
While this controversy was happening I got the following email a few days ago from one of the iPhone developers who has medical applications in the store. We’ve also reviewed their applications. I’ve taken out his name and the applications he mentions until I have time to look into this situation some more. We have reviewed one of the apps he claims is using the same techniques as Molinker was (We actually did not give that app a positive review). One of the developers he mentions asked me many times how much money it would take to get a positive review, and did not seem to understand that we don’t take money for positive reviews.
I recently read (here) that an iPhone publisher was banned from the app store for manipulating applications reviews. I’d like to bring to your attention another business that seems to use the same tactics of blatantly writing dozens of scam reviews to maintain top positions, this time in the medical section of the app store. If you do a search in iTunes for applications under any of the following three names:
<developer 1-name removed by editor>
<developer 2-name removed by editor>
<developer 3-name removed by editor>
You will discover that almost all positive reviews for the applications in these three businesses are written by reviewers that only review applications within the three. Furthermore, the same 3D anatomy graphics are used across the three businesses indicating that they are not really separate entities.
I will not hide the fact that some of the applications from these businesses are in direct competition with my own applications. As a developer who doesn’t use these crass techniques, I have up to now accepted this fate and hoped users would recognize the fraud (and some have, look for example at the one star reviews for <name removed by editor>). However some of the apps in these businesses continue to dominate the medical section of the app store.
I have not made this e-mail public nor divulged my name in this matter in fear of retaliation from the authors of the fraudulent reviews.
The new hard line attitude Apple has decided to take against fraudulent behavior gives me hope that the situation can be rectified.
<medical app developer-name removed by editor>
This story overall is pretty fascinating, as it really gets to the integrity of the App Store. This is really one of the reasons we do not give actual star rating for applications. We’d rather our readers understand everything an application provides through our reviews, and then make a purchase based on a good understanding of the app.